We start with our deepest sympathies to everyone affected by the tragic shootings in Orlando.
And while there’s no appropriate transition to sports – every time horrific events take place, I’m reminded of the solidarity of the sports world in the aftermath of 9/11: From the Mariners and other teams across America showing their patriotism and support for the victims – to the goosebumps we all felt when then-President Bush threw a perfect strike in his ceremonial first pitch in the World Series at Yankee Stadium.
And while we all pray for Orlando tonight, we have a huge opportunity to show our support this week when the men’s national soccer team plays at CenturyLink Field. It’s an unexpected turn of events, thanks to the U.S. topping their group in Copa America – and it puts Seattle center stage for the tournament quarterfinals. It gives this city – and its sports fans – a chance to show its national pride in the wake of senseless killings on the other side of the country.
This isn’t me arguing politics – or motives – or anything else that blows up social media in the aftermath of a mass shooting.
This is me, getting behind the notion that for the good of our country, we can put it all aside for a few hours and stand united in relentless support of our nation’s team.
On a local level, we even saw it today from the Royal Guard, posting this on Twitter following the Reign FC’s match at Memorial Stadium: “Thank you, Seattle. After a day like today, we needed that 90 minutes of distraction.”
Seattle prides itself on its emerging soccer community – and we see it every week with sellout crowds at Sounders matches. This Thursday night should be no different; in fact, it should be even more electric with everyone in Red, White and Blue. In a perfect world, the stadium wouldn’t be full of just soccer fans or sports fans – but simply citizens who want to show our solidarity – and our resolve that no lunatic can break this nation’s spirit.
It’s already a big deal that Copa America is celebrating its 100th Anniversary this year – and even bigger that the United States is hosting it for the very first time.
And now, Seattle, which perennially vies for the title of “Soccer City USA,” has this unprecedented chance to put its best foot forward.
I know the prices are steep, and many paid to see the sure thing with Lionel Messi and Argentina playing Tuesday night. I also know Sounders fans are disappointed Jordan Morris wasn’t selected, and Seattle’s DeAndre Yedlin is ineligible thanks to his red card in yesterday’s match. But this is arguably the biggest match the national team has ever played in Seattle – and the American Outlaws need our help.
Again, for whatever reason, Seattle has often been passed over for big-time national matches and major international competitions. All we can do is make the most of these opportunities.
And when CenturyLink Field takes spotlight on Thursday night, I hope to see Seattle shine bright – its people standing proud and united as one: The only way to emerge unbroken – and unbreakable for many years to come.